[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 137 / Apr. 15 .2007 ]
Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)  

Recently the number of people that worry about the human rights situation in Japan has certainly increased.
For instance, last March Osaka City forcefully deleted the resident card with the right for employment of workers who were registered as residents of the Kaiho Kaikan located in Nishinari-ku (Osaka).
The matter of notifying and registering as a residential place the Kaiho Kaikan is by no means an illegal business, but, on the contrary, the enforcement of Osaka City, including the deletion of the resident's card, just before the unified local elections, gathered lots of criticism from the public.
The deletion of the resident card not only denies the right to vote, but also infringes a violation of other human rights recognized by the Constitution and creates many inconveniences to the workers. According to a total interpretation of the Resident Registration Act, in spite of being able to exercise the right to vote and other citizens' rights, all of a sudden the way of dealing with things changed and then it because impossible to exercise those rights. The reasons behind are discrimination and a lack of consideration towards those persons that cannot have a fixed domicile due to their poverty or unemployment.
And again, the statement of the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, that mass media has stopped mentioning, calling women machines to produce babies, arose much criticism among human rights groups, because of the attitude to consider human persons machines. Nevertheless, the Japanese government has taken a protective attitude, in front of the critics that demand responsibility for such a statement that violates the dignity of the human person, as is safeguarded by article 13 of the Constitution and gender equality (Confer article 14 of the Constitution).
On top of that, the Ministry of Education and Science does not change its attitude in spite of the criticism voiced against text books, and though there are movements against putting to a vote at the Diet bills like legislation related to the reorganization of the American military forces in Japan, the retrogressive revision of the Juvenile Act, the Conspiracy Bill, the 3 Bills related to the retrogressive revision of the Fundamental Education Law, legislation on the perpetuation of dispatching Japanese troops and others, there is no way to make a change in forcing a vote at the National Diet.
This way, citizens' movements at the grass root levels oppose such moves that threaten human rights and, although mass media does not show interest on them, local and networking groups continue their support.
The situation of human rights in Japan is by no means secure, but, nevertheless, there will be a symposium taking place in Tokyo, next May, to search for possibilities concerning the need to provoke active involvement at citizens' level. The United Nations established in 2006 a new Human Rights Body, called UN Human Rights Council. Personalities related to it are expected in Japan to participate in this Symposium that plans to send a message about an international move that can not be forgotten, that is, no matter the movements to ride over human rights people will not give in. This could be an important gesture for us.
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